The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college

Young people are having to choose whether to eat or travel to college thanks to the government’s “disastrous” decision to axe education maintenance allowance.

 

Sally Hunt is the general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU)

Young people are having to choose whether to eat or travel to college thanks to the government’s “disastrous” decision to axe the education maintenance allowance, according to a report (pdf) released today by the children’s charity Barnardo’s.

The report not only criticises the government’s decision to axe the weekly grant – worth around £30 a week to the poorest students – but also describes the EMA’s replacement as insufficient to meet students’ needs.

It is shocking that youngsters have to skip meals to get to college. Lecturers want to be encouraging students to maximise their potential and they need to at least be fed when they turn up for class.

Sadly, the findings of today’s report do not come as much of a shock to those of us who led the vociferous campaign against the removal of EMA. We have argued from the start the government’s drive to cut EMA was an ideological move backed up by spurious evidence with absolutely no regard for the policy’s likely impact.

We produced a number of reports at the time that highlighted just how vital the money was for students. However, the government opted to cherry-pick its evidence from a survey that included hardly any students who actually depended on the EMA.

While we questioned how a cabinet of millionaires could have any understanding of the difference a few pounds a week makes to the poorest in society, the education secretary, Michael Gove, axed the grant, despite not having visited a single further education college.

Embarrassingly, but not surprisingly, the government’s evidence was later discredited by the man the government frequently cited to call the EMA a “deadweight cost”. Giving evidence to the education select committee in the summer, Mr Spielhofer said he was not happy with the concept that EMA had a deadweight cost of 88%.

He was also unhappy the axing of EMA had been based on his research and said ministers should have paid closer attention to other evidence, including work by the Institute for Fiscal Studies which showed that EMA paid for itself. The select committee described the axing of the EMA as rushed and ill-though through.

After failing to listen to the evidence when axing EMA, the least the government can do now is take note of today’s findings and provide the financial support required to give the poorest teenagers a fair crack at an education. There is no benefit in consigning them to the ever-increasing number of young people on the dole queue.

See also:

Five reasons Clegg can’t stand on his social mobility recordAlex Hern, January 12th 2012

The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young peopleRory Weal, November 9th 2011

Fees, cuts… Is this what Cameron means by “giving young people back their future”?Shamik Das, September 14th 2011

It’s now official: The government lied when scrapping EMAJames Mills, June 9th 2011

EMA replacement could breach equality law according to governmentJames Mills, May 5th 2011

EMA replacement doesn’t make the gradeJames Mills, March 31st 2011

Gove’s justification for axing EMA doesn’t add upJonathan Clifton, March 30th 2011

31 Responses to “The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college”

  1. David Warren

    This article omits one extremely important point. It’s only in England that students have to make such unfair choices, thanks to legislation passed by Tony “education, education, education” Blair’s government. Thanks, Tone.

  2. Ed's Talking Balls

    ‘worth around £30 a week to the poorest students’

    It was also worth £30 a week to rich students who were also able to claim EMA.

  3. Ed's Talking Balls

    As an aside, some of the terminology used is ridiculous. ‘Students’? No. They’re pupils. And these ‘lecturers’ are teachers.

  4. Councillor John Swin

    The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college I Left Foot Forward – //t.co/NSDtwbgb

  5. Patrick

    I remember when I was in further education back in the mid 1980s. There was no handout for going. You went because you knew the benefits of getting further qualifications WERE A BENEFIT IN THEMSELVES. If you wanted pocket money you got a Saturday job.

    And while we are it, these people are not ‘students’. Students are people over the age of 18 and attending university. The people in this article are children under the age of 18. It is the responsibility of their parents to feed and clothe them, not the rest of society. Having a child means taking responsibility from 0 to 18, not requiring others to finance it.

    All this rubbish about the choice between eating and college. Do me a favour. What do you think happens to most of this money? It goes on Ipods, trainers, and nights out.

  6. Luke Stephens

    RT @leftfootfwd: The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college //t.co/uF3RNJ1n

  7. Julian

    Do these pupils’ parents stop feeding them the moment they reach 16? Why?

  8. Anonymous

    yes in England, only in England two Tory parties and you get this, but also why the hell do so many Tories come to what is basically a left leaning site

  9. Pat Raven

    The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college: //t.co/qbmM9lpm writes @UCU’s Sally Hunt

  10. Andy Hicks

    The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college: //t.co/qbmM9lpm writes @UCU’s Sally Hunt

  11. Beverley Clack

    The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college: //t.co/qbmM9lpm writes @UCU’s Sally Hunt

  12. Peter Durant

    The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college: //t.co/qbmM9lpm writes @UCU’s Sally Hunt

  13. Michele Paule

    The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college: //t.co/qbmM9lpm writes @UCU’s Sally Hunt

  14. Jill Hayward

    The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college: //t.co/qbmM9lpm writes @UCU’s Sally Hunt

  15. Mr. Sensible

    Where is the government going with young people?

  16. Christopher Williams

    RT @leftfootfwd: The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college //t.co/uF3RNJ1n

  17. bob woods

    The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college: //t.co/qbmM9lpm writes @UCU’s Sally Hunt

  18. Mike North

    There’s more to education than school and university. Many EMA claimants are students in FE colleges taught by lecturers.

  19. Dan Ashley

    The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college: //t.co/qbmM9lpm writes @UCU’s Sally Hunt

  20. Matt Hyde

    The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college: //t.co/qbmM9lpm writes @UCU’s Sally Hunt

  21. Inspired-iQ Ltd

    The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college: //t.co/qbmM9lpm writes @UCU’s Sally Hunt

  22. BenM_Kent

    “What do you think happens to most of this money? It goes on Ipods, trainers, and nights out. ”

    Said Patrick after a detailed study.

    Oh, wait…

  23. Murray Rothbard

    RT @leftfootfwd: Shocking effect of EMA axe, youngsters skip food to get to college //t.co/G9zjBbct <<<Alcohol consumption unaffected

  24. Jack Seale

    From yesterday: young people skipping food to get to college after losing EMA, says Barnardo's //t.co/c7FfDSkg

  25. Nikki L

    From yesterday: young people skipping food to get to college after losing EMA, says Barnardo's //t.co/c7FfDSkg

  26. Andromeda

    From yesterday: young people skipping food to get to college after losing EMA, says Barnardo's //t.co/c7FfDSkg

  27. JuliaM

    Cure for 'obesity crisis' found! > RT @jackseale: young people skipping food to get to college after losing EMA.. //t.co/cFS179wn

  28. Jasmine Cope

    From yesterday: young people skipping food to get to college after losing EMA, says Barnardo's //t.co/c7FfDSkg

  29. Claire

    "@jackseale: From yesterday: young people skipping food to get to college after losing EMA, says Barnardo's //t.co/5s6rQzrP&quot;

  30. Deptford Says NO

    RT @leftfootfwd: The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college //t.co/hFBj12xR

  31. Subject choice plummets across the UK as the government fails universities | Left Foot Forward

    […] also: • The shocking effect of Gove’s EMA axe: Youngsters skipping food to get to college – Sally Hunt, February 7th […]

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